Archie Brown And The Young Bucks have been pub-folk rocking (in one form or another) all the way from Newcastle, circa 1976. And their new album, Diddley Bow, exemplifies former Mott The Hoople guy Ian Hunter’s rock ‘n’ roll comment, “’N you gotta stay young man, you can never be old”.
And that’s the gist of this record: It never gets old.
I like to think (in a purely secular thought!) that Biblical Lazarus, when raised from the grave, would sing a song absolutely wonderful as the title track, ‘Diddley Bow’. Oh, my oh my! The chord progression prays at a rock ‘n’ roll altar, while the infectious tune conjures the contagious sock hop-hamburger joint-jukebox jive (with almost way too clever tongue-in-cheek Rocky Horror vibe) that, despite all the crap in the world, somehow, makes life a bit worth living. This song, quite simply (surprise, surprise!), enters in an orbit of a newly discovered and very friendly planet. And, by the way, the rest of the album is pretty great, too.
The opening song, ‘You Just Don’t Know’, races with accordion and guitar energy that echoes the southwestern Americana pulse of early Los Lobos—or the sound of that other band with East Side Soul—The (very great) Blazers. Ditto for “Back In The Day”, which flows with an even more southwestern Americana sagebrush breeze. This is just joyous music that defies age and proclaims, “I’m happier now than back in the day”.
‘Sweet Pea’ ups the folk pulse with a mandolin and Archie’s vocals that recall Rod Stewarts’ rough ‘n’ ready ‘Maggie May’ urgent and open throttled voice, with a Paul Simon delivery. Of course, the chorus explodes with melodic accordion delight.
Well, this is pub rock music that echoes (with folk emphasis) Brinsley Schwarz or Ducks Deluxe. And there’s the earnest pop folk of Ireland’s (also very great!) Saw Doctors.
That said, three songs dig a bit deeper into folk rock Americana folk roots. ‘Clowns’ has the usual catchy melody – but addresses, with ample cynicism, the modern world with its “mad parade of clowns”. Then, ‘Wasp’ is an organ drenched stroll that name checks Jethro Tull, and has the flavour of Ray Davies and his Kinks, circa Think Visual. But – oh, my oh my (again!) – ‘Venus In The East’ is Dylan-glanced; but more importantly, the tune could (almost) be an out take from Ian Hunter’s brilliant album Fingers Crossed, with a languid Dylan blessed introspective rumination. Big complement, there!
By the way, did I mention that the song ‘Diddley Bow’ is just a magical bit of folk rock ‘n’ roll? Indeed, it does “get you jiving on that old dance floor”. My friend, Kilda Defnut, after hearing the tune, simply uttered three immortal words–“hippy hippy shake”. And, as Marvel Comics guy Stan Lee was oft to say, “’nuff said”.
That also said, two songs, ‘McBride’s’ and ‘Bluebird’, slow dance with philosophical lyrics. The former is an introspective glance at lost love, “when something said was taken wrong”. The latter gets sort of jazzy and exemplifies the depth of the songwriting (with those horns!) on this record.
Then, ‘Hold On To Your Hats’ gives one more blast of infectious rock-folk-soul that conjures both Van Morrison and Dexy’s Midnight Runners with its deep sax groove.
But ‘Mummy’s Boy’ is a final and torrid confession that yanks the happy bandage off most of the other songs on the album. This is passionate drama about “doing wrong” and it touches with emotional punctuation to an album that rides the Ferris wheel of humanity’s ever-changing tides. Diddley Bow rocks and it rolls, but it never forgets, thankfully, those deep and always melodic and very folk loving roots.
Artists’ website: http://www.archiebrown.com/
‘Reality’ – official video: